My Five Favorite Reads from 2014

Due to DAUGHTER OF DUSK deadline craziness. I'm over a month late for my annual 5 favorite reads post.  But DAUGHTER OF DUSK  is through copy edits now (yay!). 

So without further ado...

5. The Hiding Place, by Corrie Ten Boom.

As a nonfiction memoir, this is very different from my usual genre fiction fare. The beginning was a bit slow, but it provides context for Ms. ten Boom's deep Christian faith, which is what allows you to understand the way she reacts to the many challenges she faces later on.   Given that these are real people, I feel bad saying that it gets more interesting after the war starts, but that was my reading experience. The story itself is harrowing and heartbreaking. From Ms. ten Boom's efforts to hide dutch Jews from Nazi's, to their discovery and imprisonment, and eventual transfer to the infamous Ravensbruck women's concentration camp. Humanity's capacity for inflicting suffering on each other is really horrifying sometimes, but The Hiding Place ultimately is a story of forgiveness and healing, and I found it incredibly inspiring.

4. The Blue Sword by Robin McKinley

Wow. I don't know how I made it through my childhood without reading this classic, but I'm so glad I remedied it now. The Blue Sword is high fantasy at its best, with a heroine (Harry Crewe) you can root for, beautifully realized worlds and cultures, and a sweeping quest of epic proportions. Also, Harry beats up a lot of people with her sword. Which, you know, WIN.

As an older YA book, it does move a little slower than recent YA fantasies. For me, this was exacerbated by a rather slow speaking and soft spoken audiobook narrator (whom I later grew to appreciate). I almost gave up on the book in the first few chapters, but am so glad I didn't, because the story was amazing.

3. Warbreaker by Brandon Sanderson

This is the first Brandon Sanderson that I've read, and I totally understand now why he has such a huge fanbase. At the risk of sounding like this Penny Arcade strip, the worldbuilding was really imaginative and well done. What really made me fall in love though, were the characters, almost none of which end up being what they appear. The willful princess Siri, the mysterious God King, Lightsong (the god who doesn't believe his own religion), the mysterious Vasher... I found myself thinking about them for months after I finished the book. Warbreaker is a bit slow to start off (I'm seeing a trend here in this blog post?). There's a lot of setup required with this many characters and such an intricate world, but the payoff is worth it.

2. Scarlet and Cress by Marissa Meyer

My five star books fall into two rough categories. There are the ones where I sit back and speak in an observant academic way about the craft and the character development, plot structure and scene setting, and take copious notes for my writer's toolbox. And then there are the books where I'm too busy a screaming fangirl, cuz who has time to take notes when OMG CINDER'S IN TROUBLE AND WOLF HAS SUCH DREAMY EYES AND IKO AND THORNE ARE BEING HILARIOUS AND I'M GOING TO DIE OF AWESOME THIS MINUTE.

I will refrain from saying which category the Lunar Chronicles in. Cuz, ya know, a girl's gotta have her secrets.

Hehe, seriously though. I'm really impressed with this series, just the sheer fun of it all, and also how Meyer keeps on introducing new POV characters. At this point, Meyer's juggling three female leads and three male leads, as well as some very well developed side characters (Iko ftw!), and manages to make them all unique and utterly charming. Can't wait to read Fairest and Winter!

(Incidentally, I analyzed Cinder quite a bit for inspiration when revising Daughter of Dusk.  I'll blog about that at some point.)

And my favorite book that I read in 2014?

1. The King of Attolia by Megan Whalen Turner

 Megan Whalen Turner, you are a goddess.  Every line of this book is pure genius. It did take me a while to figure this book out. After the high drama and shifting kingdoms of The Queen of Attolia, I was expecting more of the same here. And there's definitely some badass moments here, but The King of Attolia has a smaller scope, dealing mostly with the intrigues of the Attolian court. What finally made the book click for me was when I realized that this book wasn't about Gen totally defeating his enemies (though that happens), but rather it's about Gen coming to terms with his new role as King of Attolia. And Turner is brilliant here. Scene by scene, she paints a masterful layered picture of Gen, until we see him in all his genius and vulnerability and get a clear picture of what he has become since his early days as The Queen's Thief. Turner's writing is really clever here, and I actually learned how to use the Goodreads quote function just so so that I could write down some of my favorite lines. The King of Attolia also directly inspired several scenes in Daughter of Dusk, which I'll also blog about at some point.

And those are my favorite reads of 2014.  What about you, dear readers? What were your favorites?

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  1. Haven't read any of these (yet), but I remember finding The Blue Sword on a ton of Best Fantasy lists at Amazon, and The King of Attolia is Courtney Schafer's favorite YA and she's one of those who's read everything.

    Didn't read much last year, but my favorite would probably be The Princess Bride, which was just as good as the movie.

    1. Steve, I read the Princess Bride last year and loved it. Seeing the story in book form made me appreciate the clever dialogue a lot more. I don't find myself recommending it much though, simply because it's so similar to the movie that I don't think friends who've seen it will get much more from the book.